Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has scotched calls for a moratorium on dairy conversions in the Waikato.
Guy was unavailable to be interviewed, but in a statement said while discussions on the issue were welcomed: “I don’t believe we are close to needing a moratorium.”
Regional councils made decisions on consents and the Waikato Regional Council had approved the plans so obviously they were comfortable with the plans and the environmental impacts, he said.
Waikato Federated Farmers president Chris Lewis asked about the need for a moratorium and debate on further dairy conversions at the organisation’s recent monthly executive meeting.
He raised the issue citing concerns over water quality and availability and the cost of meeting tight new rules. The sector, which underpins the regional economy through a $4.2 billion annual contribution and more than 10,000 direct jobs, has grown dramatically, adding 270,000 more dairy cows in the past five years.
Lewis won support from the Greens and industry commentators.
In a free country, it is land owners who decide what they do with their land – not the Government. The thought of the Government deciding who is allowed or not allowed to be a dairy farmer is what I’d expect in the old USSR, not NZ.
Now it is quite appropriate for central and local government to have regulations around environmental impacts of activities, and also to regulate water access. And this already happens. But to have the Government just declare by fiat that no more farms can convert to dairy is ridiculous.
Guy said the issue should be the overall environmental footprint, not just the number of farms or cows.
“New conversions have to meet the toughest environmental standards – higher than for existing farms. They have to fence all waterways and have environmental management plans.
He said the industry had made huge strides in recent years with more than 90 per cent of dairy waterways fenced off.
Exactly. You regulate impacts, not inputs. If a land owner wants to convert to dairy and can meet the environmental standards, they have that right. They should not need permission of a Government.Tags: dairy